All execution chambers, even the most antiseptic, stand as silent, smirking answers that blanch the irony out of St. Paul's question "O Death, where is thy sting?" Death comes in several varieties. It can be incongruously vibrant like "Yellow Mama," the electric chair in Alabama used last week for the execution of ex-Klansman Henry Hays. Or death can have the rustic decrepitude of the gallows in Delaware, which remains in operation. But on every chamber hang the words inscribed in Dante's Inferno: "Abandon all hope you who enter here."


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